Howard’s IR dream a ‘nightmare’ for workers, says ACTU


Howard’s IR dream a ‘nightmare’ for workers, says ACTU

Prime Minister John Howard got his ‘dream’ WorkChoices IR legislation through Parliament today, but the ALP and the union movement say it will be a ‘living nightmare’ for Australian workers and their families.


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Prime Minister John Howard got his ‘dream’ WorkChoices IR legislation through Parliament today, but the ALP and the union movement say it will be a ‘living nightmare’ for Australian workers and their families.

However the passing of the legislation has been warmly welcomed by employer groups.

After the legislation passed through the House of Representatives this morning, Howard told Members that WorkChoices was an investment in Australia’s future.

Most of the new legislation is expected to apply from March next year, but the setting up of the Fair Pay Commission and the scrapping of redundancy pay provisions for small business will take place from the granting of Royal Assent by the Governor General.

As WorkplaceInfo was publishing, Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews was giving a press conference on the passing of the legislation.

ALP says ‘check what you’ve lost’

However Stephen Smith, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations, warned every Australian employee to ‘ascertain today exactly what their current employment entitlements and conditions are today, so they know exactly what they will have lost on election day 2007’.

‘They should make a checklist and come back in 2007 and see where they have ended up - see what has happened to their penalty rates, their overtime, their redundancy pay, their shift allowances, their leave loadings, roster times and holidays.

‘They should see what has happened to their way of life-their capacity to spend and share time with their family and their capacity to balance work and family.

‘Australians will be worse off and the Australian way of life will be much the poorer as a result of the passage through the Parliament today of this extreme and unfair legislation.’

Opposition Leader Kim Beazley said the legislation was Howard’s ‘most un-Australian act’ and a frontal attack on the Australian way of life.

New laws attack living standards - ACTU

The ACTU said the final passage of WorkChoices laws through Parliament ‘will make John Howard’s industrial relations dream a living nightmare for Australian workers and their families’.

‘The clear goal of the Government’s new workplace law is to boost the profits of big business at the expense of the basic rights and living standards of working Australians,’ said ACTU President Sharan Burrow.

‘These are unjust and unwarranted new laws that will hurt the most vulnerable workers and reduce the job security and living standards of all Australian workers and their families.'

BCA says economy will strengthen

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) said there was now a significant responsibility on business to use the changes in ways that strengthen the economy and in turn, benefit the broader community.

In a letter sent to all BCA companies, which employ nearly one million Australians and account for 30% of Australia’s exports, BCA President Michael Chaney urged large business to make every effort to incorporate the new round of reforms to improve competitiveness.

‘Business, including BCA, has been urging Federal and State Governments to support these changes because they have correctly identified them as vital to Australia’s future prosperity,’ Chaney said.

‘The changes will help reverse a significant decline in Australia’s productivity.’

Mr Chaney said that in a global economy, Australia would constantly need to evolve and adapt to change.

Boon for resources sector

The Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) said the legislation represents a significant structural step towards a simpler and more efficient workplace relations system in Australia.

Steve Knott, AMMA Chief Executive, said the reforms are long overdue for industries such as the resources sector, an industry that employs well in excess of 100,000 employees and currently contributes over $80 billion per year in export earnings for Australia.

‘The need to improve international competitiveness remains critical to the long term sustainability of the Australian resources sector,’ he said.

‘By necessity, this sector has and will continue to embrace workplace flexibility. This has been a driving force behind the resources sector being at the forefront of workplace reforms in Australia.

‘WorkChoices will simplify agreement making, reduce unwarranted third party interventions, create greater certainty in investment decisions for employers and will facilitate ongoing improvements in employment terms and conditions for employees.’

Knott said AMMA welcomes the amendment of WorkChoices to allow greenfields agreements with unions to operate for 5 years.

‘This was one of many issues that AMMA actively lobbied for,’ he said.

‘As with the Workplace Relations Act 1996, the hysterical doom and gloom claims about the WorkChoices legislation will, with the passing of time, be shown to be misguided and misplaced.’


Federal IR changes 2005


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